Suburban Timewaster

I play video games and review them.

Archive for the month “May, 2018”

Mortimer Beckett and the Secrets of Spooky Manor (Big Fish Games)

When Mortimer Beckett visits his uncle’s mansion, he finds it infested with ghosts.  To make matters worse, his uncle’s disappeared from sight.  It’s up to Mortimer to rescue his uncle and assemble his invention, the ghost machine.

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Those of you who follow me know that I’ve been mainly focusing on catching up on the Delicious games.  One of the games in the series is Mortimer Beckett and the Book of Gold.  However, I had no idea that, like Sally, Mortimer had his own game series before joining the Delicious cast.  Therefore, I decided to check it out before playing the Book of Gold.  The storyline in this game is an excuse plot, so there’s not that much to say.  However, I will tell you that, contrary to what I say in the first paragraph, the ghosts are not dangerous.

The game play is standard hidden object with you visiting each room and collecting items.

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Your goal is to collect the pieces of the four items in each room.  After that, you can use the items to either put them back in their proper place or solve more puzzles to connect the ghost machine.  You only have a limited number of hints in each section of the mansion, so use them wisely.  It’s possible for you to miss a detail entirely because, when I got to the last room, I couldn’t connect the ghost machine.  I thought that I gathered all of the pieces and found myself worried about a bug.  It turned out that I forgot to check one room entirely to get the battery.  I was very relieved that I didn’t have to start the game all over.

This game is fun and simple.  I give it 6 out of 10, a nice little diversion from boredom.

Mary Le Chef: Cooking Passion (Gamehouse)

Mary Vanderworth dreams of being a chef while her parents want her to become a lawyer, like them.  Therefore, she has to maintain her job at the restaurant while working at a law firm to pass the bar.

The storyline is similar to the first venue of Cathy’s Crafts, except this one takes up the entire game.  Mary moves from restaurant to restaurant mastering her chosen profession while meeting other people along the way.  One in particular is a man that wants to be a comedian despite his father’s wish that he take over the family business.  I loved the parallels with Mary’s own conflict and that, in both cases, it takes awhile for the parents to realize that they need to set their children free.  The difference is that he can stand up to his father while Mary is still trying to make her parents happy.

However, I didn’t like one plot element.  This element takes the form of Mary’s boyfriend, Peter.  Not only is his addition pointless to the story, but he shows excessively jealous tendencies towards Mary.  He also shows himself to be indecisive and fickle by breaking up with Mary only to go back to the ex-girlfriend he despised.  While Peter is right that Mary is destroying herself by becoming a lawyer rather than a chef, we didn’t need him to point that out for us.

The game play is similar to the Delicious series with you delivering the required items to the customers.  Then you check them out at the cash register and clean the tables for sitting customers.

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Be quick about it, or customers will leave if they don’t get the table they want the minute they walk in the restaurant.  Believe me when I say it gets frustrating.  You need to reach the first star of every level in order to continue the game, but try for all three if you feel lucky.

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Each level comes with a special challenge you have to complete in order to get diamonds you can spend on gifts for Mary’s room.  You can also win trophies throughout the game by complete special tasks.  Did I mention that you can upgrade the products throughout each venue? However, I should tell you, the game doesn’t really give you an exact idea of how close you are to the newer products and the trophies.  This makes it even more irritating.  Completing venues also unlocks recipes for your cookbook.  Emily’s nemesis, Carl the mouse, also appears in every level for you to catch. That’s right; Emily makes a cameo appearance to explain about the mouse that drove exterminators crazy.

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This time, Carl doesn’t appear in the exact location every time.  Therefore, you had better be quick.

This game is fun, but has a couple of flaws.  I give it 6 out of 10, one point off for the boyfriend and another for the game play issues.

Maggie’s Movies-Camera Action (Gamehouse)

Ever since childhood, Maggie dreamed of writing her own movie.  Unfortunately, her job at Hollywood is being the assistant director to an insufferable man.  If that wasn’t enough, Maggie also has to deal with co-workers who will do whatever it takes to crush her.  Does Maggie have what it takes to make it in the cutthroat business of Hollywood?

This review might contain spoilers, so read with caution.  While the game does take place in the Delicious universe, it’s a little more ambitious than most games that you would find in the series.  For starters, this game discusses one theme common in Hollywood, sexism.  It starts with the female star of the move in the first venue, Catherine, complaining about how her character, Hester, is little more than a plot device to motivate the man.  When she brings this up to Frank, the star of the movie, and Clyde, the director, they both scoff at her.  Maggie is the only one to take Catherine seriously and bring this up to Clyde, pointing out that the target audience of the movie is women so the main woman has to be someone they can admire.  As much as I hate to say this, Maggie is only half-right.  While movies such as Jane Austen adaptations and Titanic feature strong female leads, movies like the Twilight Saga find themselves lacking in a similar department.  All three have, or had, a large female audience, but the former two still have large fan bases.  As for the last one, very few people talk about it anymore.

I said in the first movie that Maggie’s dream is to write her own movie.  When she finally gets the chance to meet the son of a famous producer, Al Jr., it’s not her script she pushes on him.  Her friend, Michael, is also an aspiring screenwriter and wants Maggie to help him make it big in Hollywood.  However, he shows no interest in reading her script.  In other words, Maggie also faces sexism in Hollywood and it doesn’t stop with Michael.  Al Jr. tells Maggie to look pretty in order to please the investors and some of them are more interested in dating her than they are in listening to her opinions.

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Even when Maggie tries to wow investors as herself and has it under control, Al Jr. still undermines her and puts her down when he can.  To make a bad situation worse, when Michael finally reads Maggie’s script, he admits that he fell asleep while reading the beginning.  He then proceeds to call her story a boring chick flick.  This is the final straw and inspires Maggie to break off into her own independent company.

I should tell you that Maggie’s movie is not one that I’d call a chick flick.  It’s a compelling story about the main character discovering that her father’s tied to the mafia and working with her friends to stop him.  However, society has a belief that stories starring men are gender neutral while stories starring women are exclusively for women.  It is a belief that started disappearing in the 90s era of television.  The proof is that shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Daria attracted a large male audience despite both shows starring women.  It’s even less prevalent in present time with The Hunger Games and Wonder Woman doing well in the box-office.  While the issue of sexism hasn’t disappeared entirely, this is a step in the right direction.

I’ll admit that this game is a huge improvement over Mary Le Chef.  However, the storyline does have one or two problems.  The star of the movie Maggie first works on, Frank, is rude, arrogant and sexist.  He demands special treatment, hates when Catherine’s character gets more screen time than he does and sexually harassed a member of the staff.  It gets so bad that Maggie fires him and gives more screen time to Catherine to finish the movie.  When Maggie starts her own company and needs an actor to play her main male character, Frank comes through for her and his personality does a complete 180.  There is no build up to this whatsoever.  Like Mary Le Chef, this game also has unnecessary romantic subplots.  The first being Maggie’s romance with Michael that goes nowhere and ends when he reveals his own selfishness and sexism.  While this is a necessary subplot to make Maggie release her dream, there is no need for a romantic connection between her and Michael.  Maggie also has a love interest in the form of Ted who shows no value other than being her high school crush.  Ted shows more value in the extra footage that comes with the platinum edition.  However, he is little more than a device for conflict between Maggie and Jessica.  Catherine and Frank also get together, despite having no chemistry other than when they play characters romantically linked to each other in movies.  Also, despite this game taking place in the Delicious universe, don’t expect any cameos from the characters.

The game play is a vast improvement over Mary Le Chef.  While you’re still delivering items to the people that come in, you can also direct movie scenes in certain venues.

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Sometimes, you have to shoot the same scene repeatedly, but it gives you a chance to fully read the dialogue and get an idea of what the movie is about plot wise.

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You still have to clean tables and reload the stock, but the game rewards you for it by giving you extra points for each level.  That’s right; this game actually rewards OCD players such as me.  You also have to find the mouse in each level and complete an event in order to earn diamonds and purchase trophies.  You have to get the first star in order to advance through the game, but go for all three if you feel lucky.  Purchase upgrades in-between levels and use an item as often as possible in order to unlock all of the products.  You can also unlock achievements by completing various tasks in the game.

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Unlike Mary Le Chef, Maggie’s Movies actually tells you how close you are to unlocking certain products and trophies.

This game is addictive and intriguing.  I give it 8 out of 10, a brilliant commentary on Hollywood sexism.

High School Story (IPhone App)

When you come across an abandoned lot, you decide to build your own high school.  Can you create the ideal place where everyone can just be themselves while fighting off the rival Hearst High?

I’ll be honest, the only reason I checked this game out is because I heard the Monster High characters would make cameo appearances.  However, let me say that I did not regret getting this game.  For those of you put off by the high school setting, let me tell you that it’s high school as it should be rather than how it actually is.  I told you that the Monster High characters make cameo appearances in the game and, let me tell you, it actually fits.  For those of you unfamiliar with Monster High, it’s about embracing all of the freaky flaws that make you who you are.  High School Story has a similar premise in that, no matter what clique you belong to, everyone will accept you for who you are.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a male cheerleader or a female nerd; nobody mocks you at this school.  Nerds hang out with jocks; preps can date gamers and so on.  Everyone has their own thing and, rather than being ostracized for it, the game celebrates the characters for it.

The game explores many themes such as the dangers of cyber-bullying and the discrimination girls face in the world of computers and video games.  One plot introduces an organization known as Girls Who Code dedicated to closing the gender gap in coding using the character Payton.  Another plot is about the girl gamer character, Sakura, and the prejudice she faces in MMORPGs for being a girl gamer.  I’ll admit that the game does sometimes run the risk of becoming an after-school special but they do so in very tolerable ways.  Some quests are just about the characters hanging out and having fun.  The game knows when to be funny and when to be serious.

The game play is similar to many simulation iPhone apps.  You send characters on quests and wait for them to finish.  The quests can take up to a few minutes to several hours, but the rewards are worth it.  You can collect books from the classroom, build dorms and collect money, send characters on dates and even party to get one of each type of classmate.

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Let me tell you that every type comes with a special side quest.  You can also build a library where you can meet a special character and complete vocabulary quests.

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However, like Hollywood U, once you finish the extra additions, the game begins to dull.  You just continue playing to see what goes on further in the plot.  I should also warn you that many of the extra additions cost money and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to experience everything this game has to offer.

This game is addictive and insightful.  I give it 7 out of 10; loses its appeal after a long while but worth checking out.

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